Lithuanian environmental impact study on new nuke plant gets lukewarm marks from Belarus

Publish date: October 15, 2008

The Belarusian ciry of Braslav held public hearings on the subject of Lithuaniua’s desire to build a new nuclear power plant and environmental impact study the Baltic nation has conducted on the plant’s construction, the site reported.

Belarus has a touchy history with nuclear power plants, having been the main recipient of fallout from the Chernobyl explosion in 1986.

The Lithuanian side presented the environmental report to Belarusians who had come to the hearing, and fielded questions from the audience. Among those assembled were Braslav Regional administration officials, officials from the Belarusian natural resources ministry, Belarus’s Orkuss Centre, Russia’s nuclear oversight body, Rosatomnadzor, other industry authorities, and local residents.  

The report on the environmental impact study was prepared by an international consortium comprised of the Finnish Pöyry Energy Oy, the Lithuanian Energy Institute, acting as proxy for the OA Lietuvos Energija in of the Espoo convention on Environmental Impact on a Tran-border Context.

The presentation reflected the essence of the document and was of a general character. Answers to questions, therefore, were often contradictory. For example, “there are no plans for any harmful effects either on environmental circumstances or the general health of the Braslav Region and other Belarusian territories,” contrasted with, “it is possible that food products taken from Belarusian regions located within the 100 kilometer zone (from the planned nuclear plant) will be taken for analysis by local administrations.”     

The Belarusian side was critical of the environmental impact study, and it was evident that Belarusian institues and specialist had done their homework on the environmental impact study for the proposed Lithuanian plant – and they as well as the general population had many questions. For instance, they asked why planed dumping of a number of radionuclides into Drisvyata Lake were not taken into account, and why the projected rise in temperature in the lake had been incorrectly calculated, and will there be compensation for the local population, primarily in the form of power discounts from Lithuanian electricity producers.

The overall assessment of the environmental impact study was that it is a rough document, and those in attendance expressed a desire for Belarusian authorities take a closer look at it. Belarus’ Environmental Ministry has been named as the responsible party for conducting negotiations with the Lithuanian side, which are still ongoing, reported.